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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 25 New Delhi June 13, 2015

Left Unity Badly Needed to Counter Increasing Onslaughts on Livelihoods and Ecology

Saturday 13 June 2015, by Bharat Dogra

All the rallies and media hype to glorify the one year of the Modi regime cannot hide the bitter truth about the growing seriousness of the country’s problems and the directionless, unplanned, corporate-led growth likely to devastate environment and livelihoods based on jal, jangal, zameen (land, water and forests). In this context clearly there is an ever-growing need for Left unity. However, this unity will be able to serve the people and nation only if it is based on reappraisal of past mistakes so that Left politics can become much more democratic as well as protective regarding environment and social relationships.

There is no indication yet of such broad-based unity of the Left forces based on sincere re-appraisal and correction of past mistakes. All that we’ve seen are a few indications of small steps towards Left unity. Even these are welcome so that at least mutual mistrust can be avoided and a new beginning for Left unity can be made.

Anita Joshua reported in The Hindu from Visakhapatnam (news title, ‘Karat calls for forging Left unity’ dated April 15 in the Delhi edition of this newspaper): “Invited to the inaugural session of the 21st Party Congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the smaller Left parties were given prominence by the host leadership. The leaders of all the six Left parties present, including the CPI(M), were one on the need for coming together on a broad Left platform.

“‘It is by forging a strong Left unity that we can rally all other democratic forces and go forward towards building a Left and democratic alliance,’ said CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat in his inaugural speech.

“This was the first time four of the Left parties were invited to the Party Congress. While the CPI was present at the last Congress in Kozhikode, the two long-standing allies in the Left Front—the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Forward Bloc—received invites for the first time as did recent entrants, the CPI (Marxist-Leninist)-Liberation and the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist).

“... Forward Bloc’s Debabrata Biswas said his party expected the CPI(M) to take the initiative in building Left unity nationally.

“SUCI general secretary Provash Ghosh was appreciative of the efforts made by Mr Karat personally to reach out to a small party like his while pointing out that his organisation had always been in favour of Left unity, even through the years it carried out struggles against CPI(M) governments.”

In addition there’ve been other reports like the merger of Lokayat with Socialist Party.

This is very heartening in itself, but in addition one can think of a further broadening of Left unity by including (a) several other Left political parties; (b) several people’s organisations working for equality and justice with farmers, workers, fisherfolk, artisans and self-employed persons; (c) several organisations working on a wide range of progressive movements including social reform, gender issues, human rights, environment protection etc.; (d) several professional progressive organisations like those of journalists, acedemics etc.; (e) several organisations active against communalism and social discrimination; (f) several organisations resisting the onslaughts of imperialism in various ways. This list can be extended.

However, a common minimum programme of mutually consistent objectives and policies on national and international issues is a must for forging and strengthening such unity. Only such an inspiring and credible programme can ensure that Left unity goes beyond the unity of the existing Left forces. The effort should be so inspiring that a large number of uncommitted persons, who are yearning for relief from corruption, inequalities and injustice, can also move towards the forces of Left unity. To make this possible, the Left forces should also look inward and get rid of those narrow ideas which have stood in the way of these parties getting acceptance of the common people in India.

Broad Left unity should take place as a part of a much wider task of great historical importance of solving the most urgent problems facing the entire world.

Finally, all personal egos and ambitions of leaders which stand in the way of people’s unity should be completely avoided.

Bharat Dogra is a free-lance journalist who has been involved with several social initiatives and movements.